Why Should a Study Focus on the Underlying Problem?

Here’s the laugh line from Jill Rodrigues’s Sakonnet Times story on the professional study that concluded — shockingly — that the Portsmouth school system needs more money:

Although much of that money is spent on salaries and benefits, the consultants did not weigh in on contract provisions and their impacts on the district.

Reading some of the details from Berkshire Advisors’ report gives one the sense of a skewed mentality articulated: The school district needs to spend more on everything (except nurses), increasing programs for everybody from those with special needs to those with especially talents, but the money is just supposed to be found.
Frankly, the district would have made a modest advance in that regard by saving its consultation expenditures and asking any Rhode Island parent with some common sense what he or she believes the problem to be. More and more, the practical answer is: a lack of vouchers for private school.

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Tom W
Tom W
16 years ago

The study is a joke; garbage in / garbage out.
They only compared Portsmouth to a handful of other Rhode Island school districts, which is something like Consumer Reports being told to only compare Chevrolet vehicles to fellow GM brand Pontiac.
If the study had compared / benchmarked against national averages and “best in class” then it would have been a meaningful study.
So unfortunately by ( presumably intentionally) limiting the scope of comparisons, the Pooh Bah’s in Portsmouth merely engaged in a public relations dog and pony show instead of a good-faith effort to examine the true quality of Portsmouth’s schools and whether or not the Town is getting good value for its tax dollars.

John McDaid
16 years ago

Hi, Mr. Katz…
Just a minor factual correction: the Berkshire report does not actually advocate spending more money on “everything,” but specifically identifies instructional materials and library books.
The consultants seem to have worked hard to deliver a report that was mindful of the S3050 cap, and their recommendations for improving both special ed and gifted and talented rely mostly on shifting existing resources.
And they do make a point of criticizing the NEA contract for excesses in planning time and course relief for department heads.
I would respectfully suggest that you take a look at the report itself, avaiable on http://portsmouthri.com rather than relying on “laugh lines” from media coverage. Being a think tank and all.

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